Colossal Bull Head Formal Analysis

6 June 2016

The goal of the artist was that the king must be followed, protected, and respected; He met this goal by giving the bull a large overpowering frightening look in order to prove the power of the king to those who would think to offend the king. The Colossal Bull Head is an incredibly large detailed piece that was used in the Reigns of Xerxes and Artaxerxes I; 486-424 B.C. This was found in the Hundred-Column Hall at Persepolis. This highly polished stone was discovered lying near the body sculpture it was made for. Bull was meant to be a guardian for the entrance of a Persian king’s throne room.

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This guardian also hold some religious aspects as the horns that were probably made for the bull was meant for gods and high rulers. Different bulls were made for different kings. A bull was a common animal to show the power of the king, and this statue symbolizes as the presence of the king. The light is dim in the room and focused on the whole room at once, yet the object takes the attention away from the other objects even without the focused lighting. The size of the bull is the reason for the attention given to the bull and not the light. I feel that the lighting could’ve been better for emphasizing the bull’s head. The lighting didn’t give any focus to any object in the room and that tells me that all of the other object in the room were no less important than the colossal Bull’s head.

The object is given a lot of space in order to allow people to view it from many angles. The placement of the object allowed me to understand how much of the bull was excavated, because the bull’s neck stops at the wall.

The bull head is very secured upright because of the steel frame supporting the neck of the bull. The body was boldly placed in the middle of a large wall, opposite of the entrance, forcing everyone in the room to look at the hull’s head. The bull’s head could’ve been seen from many other angles, and I feel that this object was placed in a great spot in a small room. The size of the room (small) emphasized the size of the bull head showing that the bull was extremely large and took much room in the small area.

Walking around the corner made the sight of the object very dramatic. It instantly opened my eyes to the great scale of the object and what the scale could be used for. Immediately, when I saw the bull’s head, I was shocked and I felt very intimidated for a few seconds. I reacted in a very surprised way. I felt that this was a very interesting look for an animal head statue. Usually when I see statues of animal heads, they aren’t as big as this one.

The scale of the bulls head was used to intimidate those who saw it. The bull statue was known to show the “presence of a king” and the intimidating feeling proved that the king wanted to be intimidated by all. The Bull head was place in the middle area of the museum and before seeing the Colossal Bull’s Head, the objects were small and focused on pottery. Those objects made me think that the bull was going to be small, and that added to the effect of the scale of the bull. Overall, the walk towards the bull was interesting.

When I first saw this object, I was immediately drawn to the details of the face and the amputated horns. The face was detail in a way that showed realism of the large head. The bull is designed to look down directly at someone and stare will the intimidating power of the king. One of the reasons why I felt intimidated was because the bull felt real. The details of the face shows, in detail, the great amount of respect given to the king. The details gives an explanation of the amount of time people spent to create such a thing, and how much effort was mad when designing these statues as such a large scale.

The amputated horns was something very interesting also, and it told a
story. The story of the amputated horns was the fact that the horn were either never made or they couldn’t be found. These horns also tells me that the Persian people made large stone objects in different mechanical pieces that were able to come together.

My eyes traveled from the eyes of the bull to the base of the neck and my eyes travelled along the curve of the back garment. The artist used the garment to show detail and direction of the bulls head. The garment and the cracks along the face tells a story that explained the age of the bull and the skills of the designer.

The designer was very skilled enough to give this realistic detail on the hard metal. The cracks of the bull explains the war and pressure the bull had to go through, and it gives a message that the bull had to be repaired in order to keep its great detailed shape. The smooth cracks in the bull also tells a deeper message of the power of the king and the fact that even some of the greatest material could break.

The Colossal Bull’s head made of 10 tons of hard grey stone material with large circular eyes that stare at people. The bull also has square intrusion where the horns and ears should be. The large grey stone look is very interesting because it looks very stricken and very strong. The grey color would also make the bull look very intimidating at night as it blends in the darkness.

The large eyes give people a sense of the bull’s focus, and the eyes tells you when you are in the presence of the bull. The bull was made to look down at people and make them feel inferior to the large creature. The direction large face makes a person naturally not want to stand right in front of it right away. I feel the artist spent a lot of time thinking on what details could be used to make a person feel intimidated in the presence of the king.

The neck of the bulls head points down, and that curved downward stance is emphasized in the garment on the back of the bull. The garment is wrapped and curved from the back of the neck to the forehead of the bull, and the shape of the garment is also continued towards the back of the bull’s nose shown as extruded thick line work. The beads on the head also emphasize that the bull is wearing the garment and it is not a part of its actual body. The beads are aligned in several directions to point out the whole shape of the bull and to show that this bull is royal.

This bull head also shows a strong sense of straight and bold posture. The bull has a bilateral vertical symmetry, and everything missing on one side is also missing on the other. The symmetry of the bull also shows that the Persian people were very skilled people to be able mirror each part of the bull from the left side to the right. The bull’s posture shows a demand for focus and respect. The posture shows that everyone must respect the king and he is very powerful (just like the bull itself). The artist also shows an understanding of proportion at a great level because the neck of the bull is the same size as Head.

There was much walking space given for people to walk around the bull. People was able to see many angles of the bull using the space provided. Even though the bull was given a lot of space form the museum, the head was immediately pointed down leaving very little space between the chin and the neck of the bull. I believe this was because of the medium the bull was carved with.

The stone was very limited in the Ancient East, and the bull was probably formed from a large block. The head of the bull looks as if the space provided for the bull to sculpt was very limited, but the artist definitely used that space he had to its potential. Other than the distance between the chin of the bull and the neck of the bull, the other parts of the bull don’t seem to have any hollow areas.

The museum place related objects near the Bull head such as a map of area found and other bull statues. The placement of the surrounding objects was based on the type of object available. There were many images of reliefs on the walls, and small tools on the secured platforms. The placement of these objects told a continuous narrative of the purpose of the Bull’s head. The reliefs shown near the bull head were all related to the power of the king Xerxes and King Darius.

The king is known to be very powerful and must be highly respected. The king is also known to have many following him. There was also a plan of the place where the Bull’s head was found (Iran: Persepolis, Hundred-Column Hall). This plan allowed me to understand that there were many rooms in the palace and the bull statue was place in every throne room such as the one in the Oriental Institute. Knowing of the many bull statues in the palace gave us an understanding that the figure of the bull is very important to the Persian people.

The Colossal Bull Head was a very interesting piece to look at. It was very large and looked very intimidating. The intimidating look was common for kings because they use fear to be respected. I feel that this statue started a mark that allowed people to understand the power and rights of a king which is overpowering. The power of the king is great and the scale of the Bull Head verified it.

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